Top4-ChrisBilliards800Piedrabuena second at USBA TOUR OPEN at Chris's Billiards, Chicago, IL, September 26-28, 2014

The Open Tournament at Chris's Billiards was a huge success as we expected a maximum of 28 players and got 33 players participating. With the players arranged into 5 groups of 7 players each (2 flights had a bye), instead of only taking the top 2 players from each flight (since one top player was seeded into each flight), tournament director Jim Shovak decided to take the best four 3rd-place finishers of each flight, making a total of 14 players advancing to the next round plus an auction and a lottery winner for a total of 16 players.

In order to find the time for a finals involving 16 players, a relatively-new format was tried which is currently being used in Mexico. It is basically a group of 4 players playing double-elimination. If you win 2 matches then you advance to the final 8. If you lose 2 matches, then you are out. Points do not matter and neither does average. Just win.
With 16 players, we had 4 groups of 4 players each; double elimination to 25 points. The format was difficult and time-consuming, but it was a huge success with most of the players, especially the B and C players. Although the format took a long time, it still took less time than playing 2 round robin groups of 8 players each.

In the prelims, the top finishers of each group were Hugo Patino (2-time US National Champion), Luis Aveiga (Ecuadorian Champion), Pedro Piedrabuena (7-time US Champion), Javier Teran (Ecuadorian Champion) and Luis Avila (many times Mexican Champion). The 2nd place finishers were local players Luis Milan and Olegario Gonzalez as well as room owner Felipe Razon, Adrian Viguera (a top US player who has represented the USA in World Championship Events) and Sang Jin Lee from New York, who finished in 3rd place in the recent Open Event at US Bida in Houston, TX. The best four 3rd-place finishers were Savino Manriquez (a fine local player), tournament-regular Ellis Lawrence from Florida who placed 7th in the US Bida event, many times Champion George Ashby from Illinois and Mexican player Carlos Elias. Noe Lara, a talented local player just missed out on making the finals.

Highlights from the Preliminary Rounds: Gary Scharf from Michigan and Olegario Gonzalez both defeated Ecuadorian Champion Javier Teran. Adrian Viguera defeated Pedro Piedrabuena 25-21 with a stellar performance. Carlos Elias ran a 12 and a 6 in back-to-back innings to defeat Adrian Viguera 25-12. With Jim Shovak ahead of top player Sang Jin Lee 18-9 and needing to win in order to advance, Sang Jin Lee ran a 3-3-8-2 to knock Shovak out of the finals. Local player Jose Alfredo Sanchez defeated Mexican Champion Luis Avila, 25-24.

Nam Cho from Madison, Wisconsin won the auction for $800 and a local player, Alex Cruz won the lottery and opted to sell his ticket to Jim Shovak. With 16 players and four groups of four players each, it was time for the double-elimination experiment. Knocked out of the top 16 were Adrian Viguera, George Ashby, Felipe Razon, Savino Manriquez, Nam Cho, Olegario Gonzalez, Luis Milan and Ellis Lawrence. Advancing to the final 8 was Hugo Patino, Luis Avila, Pedro Piedrabuena, Luis Aveiga, Javier Teran, Sang Jin Lee, Jim Shovak and Carlos Elias. With 8 players remaining, the players were again put in 2 groups of 4 players each, double elimination. Knocked out of the final 8 were Javier Teran, Jim Shovak, Sang Jin Lee and Carlos Elias. Advancing to the final four was Hugo Patino, Pedro Piedrabuena, Luis Aveiga and Luis Avila. The four players then played single elimination with Aveiga defeating Avila and Piedrabuena defeating Patino.

The final match was very exciting with Piedrabuena ahead of Luis Aveiga by a score of 21-14 in a 30 point match. Piedrabuena left a very difficult position for Aveiga and Aveiga attempted a shot with a ridiculous amount of speed and ended up scoring it accidentally. Aveiga took full advantage of the lucky break and ran 5 more points, tightening the score to 21-20. Pedro made one point and missed. Aveiga stepped to the table and promptly ran a 10-and-out to win the tournament! What was so amazing was that those 10 points were scored so quickly that it seemed as if only 2 or 3 minutes had passed and 10 points were scored. Amazing! Congratulations to Luis Aveiga from Ecuador and special thanks to the room owners at Chris's Billiards for being very helpful and very hospitable.

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